By Brendan Shykora
The 2018 Global Relay Canadian Road Championships went about as well as they could have for Ottawa’s Katherine Maine, who came home from the events in Saguenay, Que. with two gold medals and a bronze.
As the national Under-23 champion at just 20 years old, Maine now gets to don the prestigious red and white maple leaf jersey for a full season.
“It was honestly amazing,” Maine said, taking stock of her triumphant weekend from June 21-24. “Everyone on our team contributed.”
The podiums were indeed covered with the orange jerseys of Rally Cycling, the Minneapolis-based team Maine has been a part of since 2015.
Maine got off to a good start in the championship-opening time trial, finishing third among U23 women behind teammates Sara Poidevin and Gillian Ellsay.
But it was in the road race that Maine stole the show; she was the first to cross the finish line among the U23 women and the older Elite-class women.
The road race comprised eight laps on a 15 kilometre circuit, with each lap starting with a steep one-kilometre climb that separated riders at each pass. Maine was able to stave off a late challenge by Ottawa-based Cyclery Racing’s Kinley Gibson in the final lap and a half.
“With about 2km to go… it kind of started sinking in that I have to figure out a way to win this bike race,” Maine said.
Maine found a way to win with a final push towards the finish line, edging out Gibson by two seconds for the gold medal. Her finishing time of three hours, 20 minutes and 41 seconds was 31 seconds ahead of her teammate Sara Bergen’s bronze medal effort.
Maine wasn’t finished gathering medals after the time trial and road race. In the final day of the Road Championships she finished the criterium in first place among U23 women and second overall behind teammate Bergen.
The criterium was no cakewalk. Of the 50 racers who started the hour-long endurance test of a 1.6 km loop, only 10 finished. “It was a technical crit for sure,” Maine recalled.
“There was a good kicker before the finish and it kind of kept climbing. It was hard right off the gun and it really didn’t let up.”
But despite the challenge, Maine was still able to enjoy herself on the track: “It was so much fun! We still had all of our girls finish the race, which was pretty cool.”
In this year’s championships, Rally Cycling was without its reigning champion. Allison Beveridge – who took gold in last year’s road race in Ottawa – was forced out of the competition by injury. But the loss of Beveridge didn’t change the game plan for Maine and her remaining four teammates.
“Our plan was to get somebody up in the early move, and then use that to stack a break from the field and have a numbers advantage,” Maine said. The game plan paid off; the team of five was able to stay around the front of the pack for much of the race.
Sara Bergen, who has raced beside Maine with Rally Cycling for the past two seasons, said before the championships that Maine’s skillset as a cyclist could land her atop the podium.
“She’s a steady, powerful motor, but she also has a really snappy sprint, so that’s really advantageous because she can sit in the draft until the last minute and pop out.”
“I can’t say enough about what an outstanding teammate she is,” Bergen added. “She is consistently always there when it matters, and she always contributes with everything she has.”
Other racers from Ottawa who competed at the nationals were Timothy Austen of Ride With Rendall and Ariane Bonhomme of The Cyclery Racing. Austen finished 26th in the U23 time trial, and Bonhomme came in 14th in the time trial and 39th in the criterium.